irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Interview with HSA's Joyce Perhac
New programs and new trade shows.
Interview by Mike Hartnett (February 7, 2005)
CLN: How would you describe the state of the sewing
PERHAC: It’s a very exciting time for the home sewing
industry. Like any trade, we have our challenges, but we most
certainly have our strengths. One of the core strengths that I see
is our power in mass and our power in diversity. As the association
representing every facet of the industry, we bring over 800 members
together in one forum to promote our mission to "Get People
Sewing!" And as we know from some of our research, 35 million
American consumers are doing just that.
We’ve witnessed some exciting shifts in this number; more young
people are learning to sew and we hear from many sources that more
men are starting to sew. The HSA is working hard every day to
amplify the message that sewing is fun and easy and anybody can do
it. The more we work together – as suppliers, vendors,
manufacturers and retailers – the stronger and more successful we
will be at winning over new consumers.
CLN: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the
PERHAC: I believe education is a front burner issue, and it
happens to be a top priority for HSA. It is our belief that teaching
someone how to sew is just as important as providing a forum for
continuing education for sewing professionals. Over the past few
years, we have been developing a variety of programs to allow for
all levels of educational pursuit.
Our Sew Trendy initiative, designed to engage the younger
consumer via a year-long extra- and intra-curricular sewing program
in partnership with the Family Career and Community Leaders
Association (FCCLA), is in its pilot phase in middle and high
schools in four key states. Our feedback from the FCCLA advisers,
who are actively involved with students on a day-to-day basis, has
been quite enthusiastic. If we teach them well, who knows what can
Over the past two years, we have developed and marketed the Trained
Sewing Educator (TSE) program and the Sew Trendy curriculum.
The TSE, which launched in eight key cities last fall with an
introductory session, will roll out to many more cities and expand
to a full, two-day program designed to benefit the teaching
professional and ultimately retailers. The program is intended to
instruct sewing professionals on important issues, such as how to
develop a lesson plan, price teaching services, and market an array
of sewing materials. To date, we have trained 464 professionals and
anticipate teaching another 500 to 600 in the current year.
CLN: There are now four trade shows (two spring, two fall).
How should a prospective exhibitor decide which to support?
PERHAC: In 2004, the HSA was thrilled to announce that we
would extend the National Sewing Show (NSS) to a twice-a-year
status for our members and other industry businesses. At the March,
2005 NSS, which will be held at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino
in Las Vegas, NV, attendees will find one of the largest collections
of buttons, notions , patterns, supplies, equipment and fabrics
available under one roof.
Our attendees will also be invited to lectures and seminars
providing cutting-edge business information and trend overviews. To
date, we’ve been immensely pleased with the response to the roster
of speakers we have engaged for the NSS and other HSA sponsored
meetings, and believe we will continue to deliver a speaker of the
same caliber with Robin Lewis. Robin is the publisher of Robin
Reports, a monthly overview of strategic insights in the
retailing industry, and former VP and Executive Editor of Women’s
Wear Daily, and he will serve as our keynote speaker at the
The NSS, under the management of the HSA, debuted a number of new
and exciting elements on the trade show floor last fall with the
introduction of email kiosks for the convenience of vendors and
buyers; the VISIONS style show and the "Store on the
Floor," a unique opportunity to see the newest products
available at the show displayed in a store-like setting.
(Note: For show information, visit www.sewing.org.)
CLN: What are your goals for HSA?
PERHAC: The HSA has so many goals in our quest to best serve
the industry, but if I had to narrow it to a few, I would say
educating the trade and the public about the importance of sewing
ranks up there. The good news is that we are making significant
strides in this area via our educational outreach initiatives like Sew
Trendy and the TSE program and we are going to keep on
The HSA also heartily endeavors to serve as a significant
resource for lifestyle and global trends, an informational source,
and a sewing and special market authority. We are making significant
progress on this front as well. We continue to deliver on a dynamic
roster of speakers; it thrills us to provide a forum of professional
presentations that help our members consider their businesses in new
and different ways.
Our web site, www.sewing.org,
is rich with information and we continually deliver trend and
lifestyle information and ways of making the art of sewing new and
We will also be launching the inaugural issue of HSA
Connections, a quarterly newsletter which will be full of
concise and important information and tips for the busy trade
professional and serve as a way of keeping our members connected.
In the coming months, we also plan to capitalize on our
incredible success as an authority on the subject of Halloween. As
you probably know, each year, the HSA crafts the list of "Top
Ten Halloween Themes," which gets picked up in publications all
over the country. We are looking to bring that same level of
expertise to the niche markets of prom and bridal.
CLN: The staff at Sew News used to say that women sew
clothing for the 3 F's – "Fun, Fit, and Fashion," rather
than to save money. Is that accurate?
PERHAC: We promote the same message at the HSA. I
particularly like the use of the word "fit," as our
association promotes that word with both meanings. First, by sewing
and tailoring an item, you will get a perfect fit. Second, we
continually remind consumers about the positive and rewarding
effects of sewing, which include a sense of accomplishment and a
decreased heart rate.
The issue of "fit" is certainly a strong part of our
message. But I encourage all of you to remember that we are your
association and we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to email
me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note: To read previous Business-Wise columns, click on
the headlines in the right-hand column.)